- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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It was not too long ago that the Mountain West decided to move the Boise State-TCU game from Fort Worth to Boise. The way the league saw it, TCU was exiting the conference so incoming member Boise State deserved the home-field advantage.
Do you think TCU coach Gary Patterson has forgotten?
Here is how he opened his news conference Tuesday in Fort Worth.
"Since Boise State seems headed to the Big East, I've asked to see if we can move the game back to Fort Worth," he joked.
Indeed, amid an uncertain future for Boise State comes the biggest game of the year for the No. 5 Broncos. As was anticipated before the season began, their matchup with TCU on Saturday is a de facto Mountain West Conference championship game. Boise State (8-0, 3-0) and TCU (7-2, 4-0) are the only undefeated teams left in league play.
It is also perhaps the final chance Boise State has to impress voters in their quest to try and break into the BCS national title game. After this game, Boise State plays at San Diego State, then gets Wyoming and New Mexico. Only the Lobos have a losing record of the remaining teams. But TCU is a household name, a team that is ranked again in the coaches' poll, one that has been battling it out with Boise State for the title of top non-AQ program in all the land.
There may not be a rivalry between them because this is the first time they have ever played in the same conference, but there is some cache to a game that features both of them. Especially since this is going to be the one and only time they play as Mountain West members. TCU is headed to the Big 12 after this season, and Boise State is having conversations about joining the Big East.
Regardless of the future, the game is now and both coaches are focused on winning another championship.
"It's a big game for us without question," coach Chris Petersen said. "Probably the best team we've seen so far."
Patterson: "For us, we understand you have to go and take ball games."
This one might be a tough one to take. Boise State never lost a conference home game as a member of the WAC. Its last conference home loss came as a member of the Big West in 1998, falling to in-state rival Idaho 36-35 in overtime. Since 2000, Boise State is 72-2 at home.
TCU has done very well on the road in the Mountain West, so the Horned Frogs have that going for them. TCU has won a Mountain West record 21 straight league games while tying the conference mark for consecutive league road wins at 11 (BYU, 2005-07). TCU hasn’t lost a Mountain West contest since falling at Utah 13-10 on Nov. 6, 2008.
The Horned Frogs also busted a long home winning streak last year at Utah, snapping the Utes' conference-record 21-game streak.
Interestingly, these teams have only played in bowl games. So this will be the first time TCU plays on the blue turf that has drawn the scorn of many fans and opponents. That blue turf led to a Mountain West rule that prohibits Boise State from wearing blue-on-blue during conference home games.
The Broncos were fine without their signature uniforms in a win over Air Force. This is actually just their second conference home game of the season, one that will have many paying attention.
A championship is at stake.
4hDavid M. Hale